The Girl Who Came BackbyCrimsonSun©
It starts the same way. Standing in my living room with the phone ringing. Around me, walls rip away, frames are sucked into the sky, the ground cracks, everything is chaos, and yet, there was no sound apart from that damn ringing. I try to stop myself, but as always, like every other time, I walk over, the dream refusing to end, refusing to let go. I pick up the phone, and hear the words, "Is this David Leonard? Sir, there's been an accident..."
And as always, I jerk awake, my face drenched in sweat. As always, I just sit by the edge of the bed and while waiting for the tears to stop, think about my past, what I had lost.
I was 16 when I met my wife. It should have been nothing special, just a friend introducing her to me, but from the moment I met Jeanne, it just sort of clicked, no matter how corny it may sound. Jeanne was a pretty 5'5 brunette with brown eyes and a smile that could warm the coldest of days. Despite looking very ordinary, wearing jeans with a loose green top at the time, I found myself being more attracted to her than any of our college sluts who go around wearing tight tops and skirts that look more like belts. She was something different, something special.
We went to the same college, were chosen for the same university, most of my young adult years was spent with her, my closest friend. As we grew older, the line between friends/couple became increasingly strained, sideway glances turning into guilty smiles, guilty smiles turning into flirting, flirting turning into teasing, but neither of us took it any further. Too scared, too proud or the fear of rejection, I don't know, but it looked like I would forever remain in the friend zone, which is the worst place for a guy to be. Fact.
That changed when Jeanne had invited me as her +1 for cousin's wedding, both of us being 19 at the time. I had already been introduced to her parents, John and Nadine, and they seemed to like me, so it wasn't awkward or out of the blue. Anyway, during the reception, I found myself dancing with one of the bride's sisters, who was very...enthusiastic, let's put it like that. Especially her hands, which were definitely rubbing against things they shouldn't. Trying to pull away, and ignoring that sly look in her eyes, my eyes caught Jeanne, who was trying hard not to laugh at my discomfort. And yet, she seemed slightly bothered about it as well.
Managing to pull away, I sat down next to Jeanne, ignoring her jibes. Throughout the evening, the eager bridesmaid tried to catch my eye several times while I was talking to Jeanne, but I smiled back at her, not wanting to hurt her feelings. Of course, that only encouraged her and so, when I saw her approaching me, I did the only logical thing I could think of. I asked Jeanne to dance with me.
Spontaneous. Random. Out of the blue. Jeanne looked at me curiously, before glancing to the bridesmaid, and asked, "Any particular reason?"
"It's a wedding. People are dancing. Do I really need a reason?"
The way she was staring at me, I half-expected her to decline. But to my surprise, Jean sighed, saying, "Come on, then."
It was a slow song, and so, finding some space on the floor, I drew her in, placing my hand on her waist and did that classic dance that involved nothing but circling, made for people like me who had no idea how to dance. We moved slowly, just me and her. I had expected for it to feel awkward, having never danced, not even at my prom. But in reality, it was...nice. I found myself enjoying the closeness, the warmth shared between us. Looking down at her, and seeing the small smile on her face, I forgot every piece of restraint I had and kissed her. At the contact, every part of me shivered, and as Jeanne kissed me back, I failed to notice anything else. No idea how long it lasted, could have been years, before she pulled away, and it was only when she gave a small smile and rested her head on my shoulder that my heart started beating again. Both of us giddy as fools, we carried on dancing, oblivious to the world and whoever was in it.
The same nightmare. The same Phone. The Same message. "There's been an accident. You need to..."
The living room fades to black. The only thing left were the voices.
"Severe Damage...Heavy Blood loss"
"She's going into cardiac arrest!"
Then it abruptly stops, moments of silence. And then:
"I'm sorry, Mr.Leonard. We did everything we could, but we were unable to save both of them."
With a cry of anguish, I was back to real life, in the early morning. Breathing heavily, I forced myself up and went downstairs, not even bothering to try to go back to sleep. How could I, knowing that the funeral was in a few hours?
Three years later after our kiss, a year after our marriage, Jeanne gave birth to our daughter. She had been staying with her parents during the final stages of her pregnancy as per her request, which meant I only heard that she was in labour as I was making my way home from the airport, having been at a conference for the past three days. Smashing the gas pedal of my BMW, I raced to the hospital, driving to the edge of my- no, the car's limit. Speed cameras, I hear you say? Funny, I didn't notice any.
Shutting the car door behind me, running as fast as I can, I made my way through the hospital. Darting through hallways, asking for directions impatiently, I finally saw John standing outside a door, anxiously waiting. Apologizing to him for the delay, and finding out that Nadine was with Jeanne, the two of us waited in that hallway, neither one of us saying a word. I was terrified, partly thinking about everything that could go wrong, but most of all, that soon, I was going to be a father. I mean, holy...
The door opened and the nurse told us to come in. I looked at John, and asked, "You ready to meet your granddaughter?"
He gave a nervous smile, replying, "About as ready as you meeting your daughter."
Taking a deep breath, I walked into the room, and that's when I first saw her, crying in Jeanne's arms. Walking over, I met Jeanne's eyes, and we both smiled/cried as we looked down at our daughter. She was a little replica of Jeanne, right down to the bone.
"She looks exactly like you, Jeanne", John said, in a slightly shaky voice, while Nadine grasped the baby's- my daughter's hand.
"Not quite, Kyra got something from her father", Jeanne replied, her voice filled with exhaustion. "David, come on, introduce yourself."
My hands were shaking uncontrollably as I walked up to her, and the feeling I got when I held Kyra for the first time, as she cried with surprising volume, it was... inexplicable, and I refuse to even try and explain it. It took all my self-control to not break down and cry with her. Instead, I gently whispered "Kyra" in her ear, and her eyelids opened just a fraction, allowing me to see a flash of grey.
"She's got your eyes, David", Nadine said, and it was then that was when I felt like a father, and the emotions running through me...was ageless.
The next few days passed quickly for me. I would come early every day, waiting impatiently by the door until I was allowed in. Jeanne had trouble with the birth and was still quite weak, so I would stay by her, making sure she was alright, never leaving her side or Kyra's.
The time came when we finally took both of them home, inviting Jeanne's parents to stay with us for a while, and the next few months, I would forever remember as the best part of my life.
However, the next three years was both amazing and frustrating. Because of Kyra and the fact I was making enough money for the both of us, Jeanne decided to quit her job and became a full-time mother. I was working as a manager for a multi-firm company, and the meetings/deadlines/conferences took so much of my time, I couldn't be around Kyra as much as I wanted to. But still, no matter how tiring and stressful my job got, when I got home, I would be cheered up instantly by the two people that mean most to me.
And so, the years passed.
The main thing I noticed as Kyra grew up was that she seemed closer to me than her mother, but I figured that this was mainly because I wasn't around as much as Jeanne was. I still remember her as a toddler, like it was yesterday. Kyra may look like Jeanne, but she had inherited my personality as well as the eyes. Always messing around, always curious, it was remarkable I found myself changing into a child when I'm with her.
Unfortunately, as Kyra got older, I found myself spending less and less time with her, mainly due to my promotion as Assistant CEO in a multi-firm company. But I never forgot certain events. Her first day of school. Her first play. Her first dance class. Things like that.
Jeanne and Kyra had become my whole life. There was nothing more that I could want or need. But my job prevented me from showing that to them, and it left me feeling useless.
For most people, when someone close to you dies, it would be agonizing, but that wasn't the case for me. Throughout the service, I just felt hollow, empty. Ironically, it was a perfect day weather-wise. The sun shining, a gentle breeze, but to me, the world was lifeless. I just stood there, holding Nadine, comforting her as the rites were being said. John was more composed, mainly because he's an old-fashioned guy who doesn't show emotions as much, but even he couldn't stop the tears rolling down his face.
It was just another ordinary day, and it should have been. But a woman in a 4x4, who was partly drunk, lost control of her car on the road next to the pier. The 4x4 skidded across the road, before crashing into a small, red Fiat coming from the opposite direction, driven by a woman and her 12 year old daughter coming home from her dance recital. Both cars hit the barrier at the edge and went right through it. Both cars fell onto the rocks at the bottom. Jeanne and Kyra died instantly at the impact. The 4x4 driver managed to survive because her car was more robust, but it didn't stop her spine from breaking, paralysing her from the waist down. Not sure whether to feel pity or satisfaction at that. Not sure if I can feel at all anymore.
People occasionally came up to me to give me words of comfort, after the service, but I generally gave them a general 'thanks for coming' before moving on. Rude, I know, but that's how I felt. After all the friends and relatives left, I just went back to their graves and stood there with Jeanne's parents, the three of us standing so still, there was no difference between the statues and ourselves.
FIVE YEARS LATER
I arrived home around 10 o'clock that night, exhausted to the point of almost passing out. Every single action, opening the front door, removing my shoes, heating some food in a microwave, seemed to take ten times the effort it normally would. Becoming CEO certainly hasn't helped me out much, but apparently I was the only man for the job. Besides, it's not like I had anything to do at home.
Collecting my dinner, I made my way into the living room and fell onto the sofa. Turning on the T.V, I mindlessly switched channels while eating, thinking about Sarah, a woman in my office who has asked me out (for coffee, for dinner. Etc) at least 4 times so far. My friends, the few I still have left, think I'm either gay or stupid to refuse her offer, as she was very fit and looked nothing like her 36 years. I can't think of a reason why she would be attracted to a wreck like me, but it made it difficult for me to say a straight no. I would always make an excuse, and I hoped that eventually, she would think, too many coincidences and get the message. Harsh, maybe, but it wasn't as harsh as saying no to her face. Was it?
Clearing my thoughts, I wasted about an hour, watching a half-decent crime movie, before I decided to turn in for the night. Turning the TV off, I made my way upstairs, leaving my plate on the table. Luckily, I had arranged the next week off, and so was looking forward to actually having a decent amount of sleep for a change.
After a quick shower, I caught myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth. I still looked pretty much the same as I did 10 years ago, but being in my late 30's, you could definitely tell I wasn't exactly in the prime of my life. My eyes, hollow and empty, gave that away. I rolled a few grey hairs on my head between my fingers and ran a hand down my stubble, before deciding to ignore it and carried on cleaning my teeth, just wanting to sleep.
I didn't even bother changing when I was done, just went inside my room, stripped to my boxers and fell onto the bed, asleep in an instant.
Did I just hear that? After a few seconds of listening, I figured I must have imagined it, and decided to ignore it and try to go back to sleep.
The doorbell. With a groan, I tried to push myself up. Failing, I settled to look at my watch, learning that it was quarter to ten. I settled back down, figuring that whoever it was; they can bugger off, and was just on the point of sleep when...
RRRRRIIIIIINNNNGGGG!!!! RRRRRIIIIIINNNNGGGG!!!! RRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGG!!!!
"I'M COMING! " I roared, as I rolled out of bed. Uttering curses, I grabbed a bathrobe, and stomped down the stairs, wincing as my foot hit the banister. Making my way to the front door, I considered whether to use my fists, as I prepared myself to confront the fucking idiot. Pulling the door open, ignoring the sudden chill of air, I yelled, "Do you have any idea-", before freezing in surprise.
Standing in front of me was a young woman, looking at me with shock. We stared at each other for a moment, before I finally said, "I'm sorry, you must have the wrong house."
Yet, I knew I was wrong, I felt like I'd seen this girl before.
She looked me up and down, before saying hesitantly, "Your robe..."
Oh, God no, I thought, but looking down, I saw my bare chest and stomach and unfortunately, due to my tight boxers and the fact it was morning, the very noticeable bulge of my slightly erect dick. With a silent curse, I tied the knot, and looked back at her, in a casual pose, as if I wasn't fazed.
"Not the best of introductions. Do I know you?" I asked smoothly, still racking my brains to where I'd seen her before.
"It's been a long time since you last saw me, but you should remember." She replied, a faint smile on her face.
Slightly irritated but curious, I looked her up and down, waiting for something to click in my mind. Wearing thick leggings and a hoodie, she was around 5"7 (guessing it from my 5"10). Trying to find a resemblance to people I knew, I examined her face closely, which must have looked odd, as she gave a quick laugh.
She was very pretty, that much can be said. I couldn't tell much because of the hoodie, but she had a very attractive face, with a cute smile and dark-eyes blues, and..........wait, the eyes. I stared into them, pale grey into dark blue, eyes I knew, eyes I remembered. In a flash, memories rushed at me. Two girls running around in my garden; a young girl smiling at me, with those same dark-blue eyes before Kyra emptied a jug of water over her head.
I pulled back, and with a smile, said "Hi, Amy", to which she gave a shy smile.
I stared at her, shocked that Amy, of all people, was at my doorstep. Lost in memories, I was disrupted by a tug on my shoulder. Amy was looking at me with a slight smile, saying "You do realise it's freezing out here."
I stared at her blankly, before coming back to reality.
"Oh, right. Sorry." I said apologetically, flattening myself against the wall to let her through. As she passed, her body rubbed against mine, causing a sudden jolt in my chest.
"Living room is on the left", I said after she passed. "Take a seat, I'll just take a second to get changed".
I made my way to my room, still unable to believe Amy was here. After so long, this girl from my past had come back. While changing into a simple t-shirt and jeans, my mind went back, to a happier time and place.
Amy was Kyra's best friend, from her younger days. Her and her parents lived in our neighbourhood, (the very same place I live now). Jeanne and I had met Adam and Sarah during a social gathering. They were likeable, and Amy seemed like a nice kid, if not slightly inquisitive for her 6 years of age. However, it was when the three of them first came round to our house and Amy first met Kyra, a toddler at the time, that she became part of my life.
Amy loved my daughter, and Kyra seemed to instinctively connect with her. Throughout the years, they never failed to see each other at least four times a week. Despite the 4-year gap between them, the two of them were inseparable.
Time passed, and Amy's parents started having marital issues and because we were their closest friends, it became common for her to stay with me and Jeanne while Adam and Sarah went on romantic trips or vacations, desperately trying to flare their relationship back into life. When Amy did come over, Jeanne and I always made sure to treat her like an adult, despite her being 11 at the time, partly because she was very mature for her age, mostly because we didn't want be a parent substitute for her, as it might screw her relationship with her own.
As the issues between Adam and Sarah worsened, Amy stayed at our house more and more, until it came to the point where she was staying with us more than her own parent's house. Well, I say us, but I wasn't around that much either. Having been promoted again, I found myself spending even less time at home, so it was just Amy, Kyra and Jeanne most of the time.
Over time, despite my original thoughts, I found myself thinking of Amy as a second daughter, and treated her as such. She would come to me, asking for help, on homework, friend issues or whatever was on her mind. I would put aside whatever work I had, and like I did for Kyra, talk with her in a way that she answers her own question. (People tend to follow the advice you guide them to rather than the advice you tell them to do).
Coming home from the out-of-town conferences, I would bring presents to the two girls and after a while, Amy would expect these gifts. I would sometimes pretend to have forgotten it, but she wasn't fooled, not even once. As for Jeanne, I had learnt that excessively buying her gifts just made her pissed, and she told me that I shouldn't feel guilty. Even so, at night, I would try and make it to her, and trust me; she is a hell of a screamer.
Anyway, a year later, out of the blue, Amy's parents suddenly announced their decision to move up north. Amy was 13 when they left; I remember the day clearly, her parents walking down their garden path with their suitcases, while Kyra and Amy were in the porch, bawling their eyes out. Jeanne was comforting Amy and Kyra, telling them it would be fine, while I talked to her parents, wishing them luck on their new life. Though, by the look on both their faces, I knew that the sudden relocation wasn't going to improve their marriage. They were just delaying the inevitable, but I kept that thought to myself.
Making my way back after saying my goodbyes, I passed by Amy, walking to the car, with the most miserable expression on her face. After a brief thought, I called her back and embraced her in a small hug, her head just about reaching my mid-chest, before kneeling down and telling her, how a pretty girl like her would have no trouble fitting in her new home, and that she shouldn't be sad or scared. She gave a shy smile in reply, blushing slightly, but seemed a lot more cheerful, as she embraced me tightly, before running to the car. I lifted myself back up, picked Kyra up, and the three of us watched the car drive away, Amy furiously waving with tears in her eyes. And that was, as the car turned round the corner, the last time I saw her. Kyra cried waterworks for hours, and it took all our strength and patience to cheer her up. Over the next few months, when Kyra wasn't doing her homework or her chores, she would be on the computer, chatting with Amy on MSN, Skype, whatever it was called, discussing whatever young girls discussed at the time. They never met face-to-face again, the.....accident happening two years later.